Now that the 2021 season is over, bringing yet another year of disappointment, a fifth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of the season and into the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: OLB Derrek Tuszka
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: With the Steelers bringing in veteran outside linebacker Genard Avery this offseason, third-year linebacker Derrek Tuszka will be competing for a fourth and potential final spot on the depth chart later this summer.
By the end of the 2021 season, after trading Melvin Ingram away, and moving on from Jamir Jones, the Steelers’ outside linebacker depth chart behind their starters consisted only of players whom they added after the preseason.
Derrek Tuszka was the first one signed, added to the practice squad after he missed the cut for the Broncos. A couple of games into the season, he was signed to the 53-man roster to replace Jones, with Taco Charlton later brought in, as well.
The team decided not to re-sign Charlton (or perhaps Charlton decided to pursue other opportunities), but the Steelers did eventually sign Genard Avery, a former Browns’ draft pick who is a stronger run defender than pass rusher—but certainly an upgrade over what they already had on the roster.
With Avery in the building, and the team potentially still addressing the outside linebacker position in the draft, Tuszka is now facing a roster battle, at least with veteran John Simon, and potentially with a rookie draft pick later this year.
The team (almost) always keeps at least four outside linebackers, and five is not significantly uncommon, but it is less likely this year due to the fact that they are bound to carry at least five inside linebackers.
Tuszka’s best path is on special teams, where he logged nearly 200 snaps last season. He also played almost 250 defensive snaps, however, so he certainly was not an afterthought. He is obviously a realistic candidate to make the 53-man roster later this year, but Avery’s signing did make it harder, and the draft could create an even bigger problem.